Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cabinet Reshuffle - Rokirovochka!

I honestly miss the days when Boris Yeltsin, having come out of a "coma", would appear on national TV, and say something stupid; something in the context of his "rokirovochka" speech.

The current reshuffle in the Russian cabinet does not signify anything positive, nor does it signify much negative factors. I still believe, neither of the two candidates that seem to be aiming for presidency will become presidents. This rationale is not based on the inexperience of the candidates, Putin in 1999 had practically no experience in the "realpolitik" presidential-type jobs. Rather, that it is too soon. Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Ivanov appeared on the scene in the middle of 2006, less than two years before the elections. In today's Russia, a candidate can be promoted with the government's resources in weeks. Simply put, the people's trust in the president (not the government) is immense; that is the main resource.

However, there are many aspects that support the promotion of Mr. Ivanov as another step in his presidential campaign. Being a minister of defense in the current post-Munich speech environment (let's see if "post-Munich" sticks) hurts his reputation in the west and abroad. Military Russians are almost taboo in terms of their democratic potential in the eyes of the West. And the continuing embarrassing abuses, prostitution, and corruption in the army that is slowly disintegrating it since the 1990-s has also been disintegrating the reputation of Mr. Ivanov. He has not found solutions to the problem that have worked. The problem is tough, and probably cannot be solved in a few years, but praising Mr. Ivanov for his job as minister of defense is too early and unnecessary. Thus, alleviating him from defense priorities and promoting him into a civil-defense-economic sphere solves the reputation problems.

Mr. Ivanov and Mr. Medvedev will remain in the cabinet after 2008 as the main supporting factors. Mr. Ivanov will counterbalance his liberal colleague Mr. Medvedev. That is why they have been promoted to equal posts of 1st vice-premier with a loyal Mr. Fradkov (who will probably be replaced within the next year).

The presidential candidate will soon emerge (my prediction is Summer 2007); when another reshuffle will be made.

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